DONIPHAN — Class C-2 No. 5-rated Doniphan-Trumbull didn’t exactly look like a team playing its first game after an 18-day layoff Thursday.
But maybe the Cardinals are too young to know exactly how rusty a team should look coming off that type of break.
Doniphan-Trumbull came out on fire and put up 24 points in the first quarter, nearly exceeding Ravenna’s output in a game dominated by the Cardinals 54-26.
“We had a long layoff, and looking back on it I think we kind of enjoyed it,” Doniphan-Trumbull coach Kelan Buhr said. “This game felt a lot like a first game since we had such a long time off and we worked on some things. We got some shots up in the first quarter. In the second, third and fourth we didn’t make as many, but we’re so young right now we’re going to learn every single night out.”
The performance continued an impressive start to the season by the Cardinals (6-2), who graduated four starters off last year’s state tournament team.
Without a senior on the roster, Doniphan-Trumbull starts four juniors and a freshman, and its first two players off the bench are also freshmen.
“Going into the season, we were relatively unknown even to ourselves and our coaches,” Buhr said. “With three freshmen rotating in, we didn’t know what we would do. We have a lot of juniors that are transitioning into new roles, and the kids are just doing great.
“We’re probably a little ahead of where I thought we would be at this point, and the kids have put in the time. During this COVID stretch, they were at their houses doing the work. It really shows. They’re a fun group to work with, and we’re excited to have this team for two years.”
The Cardinals came out firing and went 5-for-9 on 3-pointers in the first quarter with four players connecting.
Ethan Smith had a pair of them and scored 11 of his game-high 18 points in the first period.
Smith said the Cardinals’ trust in each other is a big reason for the team’s success.
“We don’t really have that much (varsity) experience, but we’ve all been playing together since fourth grade,” he said. “We all just trust each other. We know where each other are going to be, and that just helps us.”
Ravenna (4-6) trailed 31-19 at the half and didn’t score while going 0-for-10 in the third quarter. The Bluejays were held scoreless for a total of 11:29.
“We came out with really tough defense,” Smith said. “That helps us. We held them to zero in the third quarter. That really gets us going on offense.
“Coach stresses it a bunch in practice, so it really pushes us to get down and dirty on defense.”
After Doniphan-Trumbull’s hot start, it cooled off with a 3-for-16 second quarter. Buhr said that’s why the strong defense was so important to put away the game.
“We told our kids we have to be there every single possession on the defensive end, and they really bought in for the third quarter,” he said. “When you hold a team that can score pretty easily scoreless for a third quarter, they really bought into it.
“Basketball is a funny game. Sometimes your shots don’t go in, but there are other ways that you can affect the game.”
Myles Sadd, the lone returning starter, added 10 points for the Cardinals, who only turned the ball over twice.
“They’re making the simple play,” Buhr said. “No one’s trying to make all-star plays. Tonight we were really, really good at being simple.”
It was Doniphan-Trumbull’s first game since a win over previously unbeaten Yutan in the Heartland Hoops Holiday Classic on Dec. 19. The Cardinals will next travel to C-2 No. 1 Grand Island Central Catholic Saturday.
Chase Lockhorn scored 12 points for Ravenna, whose losses have come to teams with a combined record of 49-7.